The main characteristic of business in China is that it’s relationship-driven. This means that in China you have to develop a relationship before you do business, whereas in western cultures you often do a transaction and then develop a relationship.
There are certain characteristics about relationships in China otherwise known as guanxi. First of all, they tend to be reciprocal in nature, so if someone grants you a favor, you should grant one back. Also, when you maintain relationships in China, you have to pay attention to other aspects such as whether the Chinese side looses face because that is going to damage a relationship. You also need to pay attention to hierarchy as this is another aspect which is important in Chinese culture. Treating people according to their rank is important as it shows respect.
In a first meeting, the exchange of business cards is a really important part of doing business. In the case that you should be prepared and have your business card translated into Chinese, pay particular attention to getting your rank and title translated accurately as these are very important in Chinese business cultures. When you give and receive a business card, you should do so with two hands as this shows great respect to the person that you’re meeting.
Other important aspects on how you can leave a good impression with Chinese side is by knowing a bit of Chinese, and showing some formality during a meeting in terms of presenting your company. Listening to the Chinese side and letting them have ample time to speak will also be appreciated. Pauses in conversation are often not seen as awkward as they are in western countries. If you want to continue your business relationship, is polite to present the Chinese side with a small gift of appreciation.
When it comes to doing business in China, you will need language skills, which is why it’s recommended you employ an interpreter and even a Chinese employee to talk to the Chinese and communicate with the Chinese in a language they understand so that there are no misunderstandings. Remember, things like technical jargon, phrases, and humor may not translate very well. It would also be a good idea to have a couple of pages from your website translated into Chinese along with your business cards.
Whether you’re going to China for leisure reasons or for business reasons, you still need a visa. The particular characteristics of a business visa are that you need either a letter of invitation from a Chinese company or a visa notification form from an issuing authority in China. You will use it along with your application form to go to the China visa application service center near you.
There are different types of business visas that you can apply for, including single entry, double entry, or multiple- entry so you have to think about how often you’re going to be going to China throughout the year. If you have a letter of invitation, it may need to state which type of visa you’re going to have to apply for.
Picture Beijing before the 21st Century: a strong visual presence of communism in the typical courtyard-style housing (12 families housed in a block built around a central yard), almost no neon advertising signs and only occasional cars and mini-vans on the streets. In those days, there were two currencies: Yuan and FEC (Foreign Exchange Currency) available only to foreigners, with a lower exchange rate than Yuan (1$=8.9yuan, 1$=7.4FEC). Strong government control, exacerbated by the recent happenings on Tiananmen Square, meant that getting to know Chinese people was almost impossible – they were not allowed to enter hotels and so had no exposure to foreign goods and lifestyle, which were only available in hotels.
The opening up of China brought new perspectives and possibilities for the Chinese people. Private ownership was booming, bringing changes in lifestyle and rapid expansion overnight in the car industry, service industries, street advertising, and real estate. A foreigner wanting to take advantage of the numerous opportunities of setting up a private business in China came up against a mountain of obstacles presented by Chinese law.
The only way a foreigner was permitted to start a business was to partner with a local person who would have to have a major share of ownership and all legal rights. In order to apply, the name approval, acceptance from MOFTEC (the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Cooperation), and tons of other paperwork all had to be legally registered, which took many months and was often dependent on how good guanxi (relationship building) your Chinese partner had with local authorities.
The beginning of the 21st Century brought further developments. The previously tedious business registration process could now be done by various consulting agencies, providing this service for a minimum sum in a much shorter time. The easiest way of setting up a company was to apply as a consultancy service, which covered such a broad spectrum that it effectively allowed the individual to explore business opportunities according to the market growth. Three options became available:
– Full Chinese ownership for the investment of 100,000 yuan
– Joint venture with 51-49% ratio in favor of the Chinese partner for the same amount.
– Full foreign ownership (WOFE: Wholly Owned Foreign Enterprise) for $100,000
At this period, China was still looking at limiting market growth to businesses with ‘serious’ investment, although services for setting up one’s own business were much improved. Once the business was up and running, the only further legal obligation was to pay taxes.
The year 2005 brought in yet more changes and China continues to relax its need for control. Setting up a consulting company now takes only a few months. With a small amount of paperwork and a minimum of $10,000, you can own the business in China, as long as it is already registered abroad with a Hong Kong bank account. The second step would be to hire an accountant (part-time if necessary) and open a mainland China bank account.
For office space, you can run your business from home as long as the real estate management has a license for such services or if you own the apartment. So, these days you are pretty much free to find your own way, use your own guanxi and explore the many opportunities in the land of dragons.
There is absolutely no argument on whether China is a major player in our current global economy. That is why it has become such an asset to be able to speak Chinese. If you are looking for employment in international business or government this is something you cannot afford to ignore. Employers and businesses are considering anyone who can speak Chinese as a prime employment candidate especially if they have a university degree and can speak Cantonese or Mandarin. Speaking Chinese Mandarin is the most common dialect that is spoken in Chinese business and everyday affairs.
A very popular Chinese speaking job is teaching Chinese. Teaching Mandarin, in particular, is considered to be the most clear-cut method of making a career out of speaking the Chinese language. If you are very good at speaking Chinese, you may choose to teach Chinese to others who wish to learn it. If you have the proper teaching credentials, you could qualify to teach Chinese.
Another way to make use of your skills in speaking Chinese would be to work in the tourism industry. As the Chinese economy has improved so has the amount of Chinese tourists visiting countries all over the world, Chinese speaking tour guides are in high demand along with travel agents who can effectively communicate and understand fluent Chinese.
If you have a natural love for entertainment and media, a great and fun Chinese speaking job would be to join Chinese show-business. Similar to other countries, China has a need for foreign participants to be a part of their commercials, movies, and TV shows. Foreigners who have learned to speak Chinese are in high demand by talent agencies and producers who need these types to cast in their projects. By going online to job boards, you can look for opportunities that could best use your talents and provide an interest for you.
There are also local jobs available that are looking for people who are Chinese speaking. There are many multinational corporations and mid-size businesses that deal with Chinese consumers and businesses that could use your reading, writing, and speaking Chinese skills.
There are also highly paid Chinese speaking jobs available online. This is because there are numerous online jobs that range from front-end web development, translation services, proof-reading, managing multilingual online communities, graphic design, and much more.
These Chinese companies need individuals who can speak and write in Chinese so they have someone who can effectively communicate with to Chinese clients and customers. These jobs only require that you have a desktop or laptop computer with internet access and the talent in reading, speaking and writing in Chinese.
China is a leading supplier of non-brandname, wholesale electronics. If an electronics product is being produced anywhere in the world, you can certainly find an imitation of it in China for a much lower price. While the quality may be a bit lower, the price reflects this, and the gadget will perform largely the same function as the original product. China’s share of the market grows every day as the imitations get better, and the quality continues to improve.
This trend may seem confusing, given that Chinese electronics manufacturers make a living by producing cheap knock-offs of electronics designs from foreign companies. However, circumstances in China do give their suppliers significant advantages.
First, their costs are extremely low. The cost of unskilled labor and capital in China are much lower than in any of the countries where the majority of electronics products are exported. This allows Chinese manufacturers to mass produce goods at a fraction of the cost of their competitors. Second, there are no international copyright laws in China. This gives wholesalers the freedom to reproduce any good they can get their hands on, with no fear of being sued for copyright infringement. These wholesalers spend virtually no money on R&D. They simply wait for a company like Apple to develop a new iPhone and copy the design.
With lower costs and greater freedom to imitate, Chinese wholesale manufacturers can afford to offer a much wider variety of products. Most electronics manufacturers offer a laundry list of products, including mobile phones, video game consoles, cameras, computer accessories, mp3/mp4 players, jewelry, and beauty products.
It’s as if 10 different stores from the US got together to make a website for their coordinated “going out of business” sale. Plus they threw in some designs from their experimental department, such as floating iPod speakers and a Photon-Ultrasonic Skin Care Wave Emitter. This is the beauty of Chinese wholesale suppliers. Just about any electronics gadget you can imagine is available online (the shotgun approach at its finest) for a price that makes you feel foolish for spending $500 on an iPhone.
In the fast-paced world of electronics, it should not be underestimated how rapidly Chinese manufacturers can adapt to changing technology. If any company develops an innovation, a copy is available almost immediately from a Chinese company. While other foreign companies are restricted from producing that product, Chinese wholesalers have all the latest developments from every company available from one supplier. Also, they often make one more addition to the new product (such as making it mini or adding a spy camera) that makes the product that much more irresistible.
Finally, we all know that nothing is permanent, especially in the fleeting world of electronics. So it doesn’t make a lot of sense to pay top dollar for a really quality product when, in all likelihood, a new upgrade will be released next year. Perhaps your fake iPhone will break down in 6 months. It probably won’t, but so what if it does? You didn’t pay much for it, and the technology is likely to be obsolete by then anyway. Rather than being stuck with an outdated product, you can order the most recent innovation from a Chinese manufacturer.
In conclusion, China has changed rapidly and is continuing to do so. It has become a land of opportunity for Chinese and foreigners alike.
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